OBJECTIVES: To explore the relationship between caregiver characteristics and the adequacy of domestic swimming pool fencing. SETTING: A typical metropolitan area of a large Australian capital city, Brisbane. METHODS: From a reanalysis of the dataset of the 1989 Brisbane Home Safety Survey of 1050 householders, associations between 10 caregiver factors, pool ownership, and quality of pool fencing, were analysed. Household characteristics relating to toddlers (children < or = 4 years), and socioeconomic measures were also included in the analyses. Pool fencing quality was measured on an ordinal scale derived from Australian Standards Association guidelines, confirmed through home visits by trained inspectors. RESULTS: Caregiver factors did not distinguish households with a swimming pool from those without, nor were they associated with adequacy of pool fencing among pool owners. Pool owners, with or without children, were less likely to perceive having a childproof fence as being important. Strongest correlates of adequacy of pool fencing were socioeconomic indicators of surrounding districts. CONCLUSIONS: These results do not support the arguments of opponents of compulsory pool fencing that caregiver factors are adequate to prevent toddler drownings and obviate the need for a pool fence. Pool owners do not appear to perceive their pool as a hazard for young children, and complacency about the adequacy of pool fencing needs to be replaced by increased caregiver health beliefs, skills, and perceptions.
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